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Fluted projectile points in a stratified context at the Raven Bluff site document a late arrival of Paleoindian technology in northwest Alaska: BUVIT et al.

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Abstract

Our understanding of the northern fluted point tradition, a critical early New World lithic assemblage, is constrained by limited data from stratified, datable contexts. Here, we report on the Raven Bluff site in northwest Alaska, where fluted projectile points, microblades, and a well‐preserved faunal assemblage have been recovered from datable sediments. Results show that prehistoric inhabitants occupied a stone‐sorted polygon where retooling, game processing, and raw material procurement occurred mostly between 12,720 and at least 11,340 cal. yr B.P. We argue that once polygon formation ended, the stratigraphic context remained relatively intact. Further studies focused on the site’s lithic and bone assemblages will help shape our understanding of the relationship between fluted point technology, microblades, and caribou hunting in northern Alaska.

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... While it seems possible that the biface and skull are associated, and represent evidence of the human occupation of now flooded coastal margins on the continental shelf during the LGM, the lack of a scientific investigation of the site together with the alternative possibilities (among others) that the finds are contextually unrelated or a product of ice-rafted debris, precludes widespread acceptance of the site's validity. The dating of these pre-Clovis-aged sites south of the continental ice sheets, combined with recognition that Clovis sites date oldest in the U.S. Plains/Southwest region and youngest in Alaska (Goebel et al., 2013;Buvit et al., 2018), have finally laid the CFH to rest. ...
... During the twentieth century, archaeologists sought to identify a technological progenitor for the CPT among late Pleistocene-aged Beringian and Northeast Asian sites (Bonnichsen and Schneider, 1999;Goebel, 2004) and the report of a potential (but later dismissed) fluted point in western Beringia sparked great interest within the First American studies community (King and Slobodin, 1996). The later discovery that Alaskan fluted points post-dated fluted point technology south of the North American continental ice sheets (Goebel et al., 2013;Buvit et al., 2018) was perhaps the last straw and confirmed that Clovis fluted points were not the earliest lithic technology of the Americas. Given these developments, most archaeologists appear to consider the CPT as a North American innovation and interest has shifted to uncovering details about the "Proto-Clovis" ancestor to the CPT (e.g., Ferring, 2012;Haynes, 2002Haynes, , 2015Jennings and Waters, 2014). ...
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... Thus far, the search for a cultural progenitor linking the archaeological LUP societies of NE Asia with a lithic technology found in the earliest sites in the Americas has primarily focused on higher latitude Beringian and Siberian sites (Goebel, 2004). Building from archaeological evidence available at the time, the original expectation was that a NE Asian cultural progenitor of the First Americans should bear close technological resemblance to the Clovis Paleoindian Tradition [CPT] (Bonnichsen & Schneider, 1999;Goebel, 2004); however, fluted points have not been found in NE Asia or western Beringia and fluted points in eastern Beringia are clearly younger than those from CPT sites found south of the North American continental ice sheets (Buvit et al., 2018;Goebel et al., 2013). Later, this model shifted toward an expectation that the First Americans should possess a lithic technology that looked something like the Nenana Complex, which predates the CPT and has been compared more readily with LUP cultural patterns in western Beringia and central Siberia (e.g., Goebel et al., 1991). ...
... Fluted points have been found in Alaska, but they appear to be late; the earliest date is ca. 10,700 rcbp (12,700 cal BP) from Raven Bluff (Buvit et al. 2019), and there are several dates of ca. 10,200 rcbp (11,800 cal BP) from Serpentine Springs on the Seward Peninsula (Smith and Goebel 2018). ...
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Many of the physical and biological processes that characterize arctic ecosystems are unique to high latitudes, and their sensitivities to climate change are poorly understood. Stratigraphic records of land–surface processes and vegetation change in the Arctic Foothills of northern Alaska reveal how tundra landscapes responded to climatic changes between 13,000 and 8000 14C yr BP. Peat deposition began and shrub vegetation became widespread ca. 12,500 14C yr BP, probably in response to the advent of warmer and wetter climate. Increased slope erosion caused rapid alluviation in valleys, and Populus trees spread northward along braided floodplains before 11,000 14C yr BP. Lake levels fell and streams incised their floodplains during the Younger Dryas (YD) (11,000–10,000 14C yr BP). A hiatus in records of Populus suggest that its geographic range contracted, and pollen records of other species suggest a cooler and drier climate during this interval. Basal peats dating to the YD are rare, suggesting that rates of paludification slowed. Immediately after 10,000 14C yr BP, lake levels rose, streams aggraded rapidly again, intense solifluction occurred, and Populus re-invaded the area. Moist acidic tundra vegetation was widespread by 8500 14C yr BP along with wet, organic-rich soils. Most of these landscape-scale effects of climatic change involved changes in moisture. Although low temperature is the most conspicuous feature of arctic climate, shifts in effective moisture may be the proximate cause for many of the impacts that climate change has in arctic regions.
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The Bering Land Bridge (BLB) connected the two principal arctic biological refugia, Western and Eastern Beringia, during intervals of lowered sea level in the Pleistocene. Fossil evidence from lowland BLB organic deposits dating to the Last Glaciation indicates that this broad region was dominated by shrub tundra vegetation, and had a mesic climate. The dominant ecosystem in Western Beringia and the interior regions of Eastern Beringia was steppe–tundra, with herbaceous plant communities and arid climate. Although Western and Eastern Beringia shared many species in common during the Late Pleistocene, there were a number of species that were restricted to only one side of the BLB. Among the vertebrate fauna, the woolly rhinoceros was found only to the west of the BLB, North American camels, bonnet-horned musk-oxen and some horse species were found only to the east of the land bridge. These were all steppe–tundra inhabitants, adapted to grazing. The same phenomenon can be seen in the insect faunas of the Western and Eastern Beringia. The steppe–tundra beetle fauna of Western Beringia was dominated by weevils of the genus Stephanocleonus, a group that was virtually absent from Eastern Beringia. The dry-adapted weevils, Lepidophorus lineaticollis and Vitavitus thulius were important members of steppe–tundra communities in Eastern Beringia, but were either absent or rare in Western Beringia. The leaf beetles Chrysolina arctica, C. brunnicornis bermani, and Galeruca interrupta circumdata were typical members of the Pleistocene steppe–tundra communities of Western Beringia, but absent from Eastern Beringia. On the other hand, some steppe tundra-adapted leaf beetles managed to occupy both sides of the BLB, such as Phaedon armoraciae. Much of the BLB remains unstudied, but on biogeographic grounds, it appears that there was some kind of biological filter that blocked the movements of some steppe–tundra plants and animals across the BLB.
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